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Site Number 28
Nearest Town: Hoxne
National Grid Reference: TM 17535 76692
Lat: 52.34513 Lon: 1.19225

Hoxne was the site of John Frere’s discovery in 1797 of handaxes, which he speculated might have belonged ‘to a very remote period indeed’. The site has been the subject of investigation ever since (Evans et al. 1896; West 1956). The lower part of the sequence is formed of lacustrine sediments (Strata F–C), which infill a kettle-hole formed in Anglian till. Strata F–D span the early part of the Hoxnian (HoI–HoII) that after a hiatus is followed by Stratum C (also known as the ‘Arctic Bed’ because of the presence of plant remains such as dwarf birch and dwarf willow). Above this sequence lies a suite of fluvial sediments followed by colluvial and solifluction units (Strata A and B). Excavations by John Wymer in the 1970s recovered two main handaxe assemblages, the ‘Lower’ and ‘Upper’ industries (Singer et al. 1993). Recent fieldwork by the authors (Ashton et al. 2008) has re-examined the context of these assemblages and established that the ‘Lower Industry’ and its associated temperate fauna lies, not within Stratum C as originally reported, but at the base of a fluvial channel (Stratum B2) that cuts into Stratum C. The ‘Upper Industry’ lies within overlying colluvial and solifluction deposits (Stratum A). This reinterpretation of the stratigraphy suggests that the first human presence at the site occurs after both the Hoxnian interglacial (sensu stricto) and after a cold event represented by Stratum C (the ‘Arctic Bed’). On the basis of this re-evaluation, it is probable that the ‘Arctic Bed’ was deposited during a cold phase within MIS 11 and that the Lower and Upper Industries date to a warmer, post-Hoxnian, phase towards the end of MIS 11, perhaps MIS 11a. Amino acid ratios suggest an MIS 11 age (Ashton et al. 2008). The fauna and flora for this phase suggest a cool-temperate climate. Many of the horse remains have evidence of butchery.


Lower Industry

Upper Industry




Flake tools









Horizons recorded at Hoxne

Unit Name Epoch Biozone MIS
Strata A & B (Horz Num: 28) Middle Pleistocene Swanscombe MAZ 11a
Stratum C (Horz Num: 646) Middle Pleistocene Undefined 11
Strata F - D (Horz Num: 645) Middle Pleistocene Undefined 11

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